Ensete glaucum

Source: Tony Rodd

Ensete glaucum

Ensete glaucum or Snow Banana is a very fast growing banana.

The name snow banana refers to the waxy coating on the pseudostem, not to the fact that the banana can grow in snow.

The aerial parts die with frost but with winter protection it is possible to get the pseudostem to survive.


Ensete glaucum is an herb that can grow 7 m high. It does not produce suckers.

The pseudostem is glaucous, yellow-green with black purple spots when it gets older, cylindrical, up to 5 m high, swollen at the base.

The petiole is short. The leaf blade oblong, up to 1.8 m long and 60 cm wide, bare.

The inflorescence is cylindrical and pendylous, up to 2.5 m long. Bracts are numerous, 10-20 flowers per bract.

The fruit is purplish black, gray-green, oblong, about 9 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. The seeds are black, spherical, approximately 1.2 cm in diameter.


Common name:

Snow banana


Musa glauca, Musa nepalensis, Ensete wilsonii, Ensete giganteum


Ensete: local abessinian name
Glaucum: from the Greek glaukos (glaucous)




Forest slopes, 800-1.100 m


USDA zone 9-11
Can survive in colder zones with winter protection but with great difficulty



Rich and well drained


Sun, partial shade


Needs plenty of water nutrients during growing season, keep moist


Fertilizer weekly during growing season, use universal liquid fertilizer


Sowing instructions:

  • sow the seeds 2 days in tepid water, change the water once or twice a day
  • sow in light soil
  • sow several seeds in 1 pot to gain place
  • maintain 20-25°C
  • germination: 1 month to 1 year


  • repot the seedlings one by one as they germinate and when they are big enough to handle
  • keep the pot with seeds: the other seeds might germinate months later
  • plant in individual pot when the weather is still too cold to plant outside
  • plant in the garden around early June